Apr 7, 2014 10:03am
Re: GD review on Fresh Air today
Wall of Sound is a term of art well over 100 years old, originating with classic composer Wagner to describe, as he put it, a "Mystic Space" experience he intended for live performances.
I'm not sure how Phil Specter hijacked the Wall of Sound for AM Radio, but then he was a spin master, right?
For 20th century live music:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_of_Sound_
For 20th century AM Radio to 21st century FM radio:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_of_Sound
The latter site sets forth the following etymology of the term Wall Of Sound:
The term "wall of sound" first appeared in print in the New York Times on June 22, 1884, in a description of Richard Wagner's redesigned Nibelungen Theater in Bayreuth, Germany, which placed the orchestra (for the first time, it seems) in a deep orchestra pit out of sight of the audience. (Previously, the orchestra had been placed in front of the stage, at the same level as the audience and in plain view).
"The mere sinking of the orchestra is, however, not the only innovation. Wagner leaves there, a space of eighteen feet wide, and extending the entire breadth of the stage (not merely of the proscenium) and extending up to the roof, perfectly free. He calls this the Mystic Space, because he intends that here the invisible 'wall of music,' proceeding from the invisible orchestra, shall separate the real (that is the audience) from the ideal (the stage pictures). If we may so express ourselves, the audience will perceive the scenes through an invisible wall of sound."
The term became popularly used around 1955 to describe the sound of the jazz orchestra led by Stan Kenton, with its booming trombone, trumpet and percussion sections.
The term "Wall of Sound" was also used to describe the enormous public address system designed by Owsley Stanley specifically for the Grateful Dead's live performances circa 1974. The Wall of Sound fulfilled the band's desire for a distortion-free sound system that could also serve as its own monitoring system.
Raymond Scott nicknamed the vast array of homemade sequencers and synthesizers that took up a wall of his studio the "wall of sound."
"Perhaps within the next hundred years, science will perfect a process of thought transference from composer to listener. The composer will sit alone on the concert stage and merely 'think' his idealized conception of his music. Instead of recordings of actual music sound, recordings will carry the brainwaves of the composer directly to the mind of the listener." —Raymond Scott, 1949